Our mission:

To promote an understanding and appreciation of trees and nature through programs that integrate science and the liberal arts, focusing upon native landscapes and well-documented plant collections arranged aesthetically and ecologically in a naturalistic design for professional and public study and quiet enjoyment.

Starhill Forest Arboretum – A Quick Tour from Treetop Productions, Inc. on Vimeo.

Located on 50 acres in southern Menard County, IL, Starhill Forest is a private arboretum owned and ope rated by the Sternberg family since 1976. The land has been farmed and grazed since the mid-19th century, when Abraham Lincoln traveled on the same road during his New Salem days.

Old trees in the forested areas date to about 1850, and the oldest planted trees were started from seed in 1964 and transplanted from another location. Permanent records kept by Starhill Forest include provenance information, propagation method and year, mapped location within the arboretum via a surveyed grid system, and other data. In addition, permanent records of other taxa that have been tested and have not survived include cause of death, when known.

The primary scientific collection is a quercetum (oak) comprising the living reference collection recognized by the American Public Gardens Association’s Plant Collection Network. Additionally, approximately 150 other genera of woody plants are available for study, as well as herb and perennial landscapes, a native prairie garden, several provenance tests, and a conifer plantation.


  • 2300 accessioned total woody plants
  • 750 accessioned oaks, including tropical greenhouse specimen
  • 45% wild collected plant material